Are Democrats overreaching with criticisms of Cuccinelli Medicare, Social Security comments?

Democrat vs. Republican on whiteVirginia Democrats, their eyes on the November general-election prize, are laying into what presumptive Republican gubernatorial nominee Ken Cuccinelli had to say about recipients of Social Security and Medicare in an upcoming book.

“Attorney General Cuccinelli’s belief that Virginians who pay into Medicare and Social Security their entire working life are ‘dependent on government’ and that their votes are for sale for ‘goodies’ is demeaning to hardworking families and far outside the mainstream,” said Terry McAuliffe, the presumptive Democratic gubernatorial nominee.

“Ken Cuccinnelli’s outrageous statements claiming Medicaid is about ‘power’ and that it creates dependency are shameful, and I am calling on him to retract them immediately. Helping children in need is something we as a people should be proud of, and I will fight to the last any effort to erode our essential support system,” said Dr. Ralph Northam, a candidate for the Democratic Party lieutenant-governor nomination, a Virginia state senator and a pediatric neurologist.

“These notions that Attorney General Cuccinelli are putting forward are an attack not only on these programs and the people who benefit from them, but also on people of faith,” said Senate Democratic Caucus Chair Donald McEachin. “I hope Virginians will come together and reject these attacks on what many of us believe we are called to do: come together for the common good of every Virginian.”

Democrats obviously think they have the goodies on Cuccinelli, but do they? Think back to the 2009 state election cycle. Bath County State Sen. Creigh Deeds emerged from the contentious Democratic Party primary as the gubernatorial nominee, and was neck-and-neck with Republican Bob McDonnell in the early general-election polls. Then the Deeds brain trust made the fateful decision to make the ’09 campaign about a 20-year-old grad-school thesis written by McDonnell in which the then young-conservative stalwart blasted working women, feminists, gays and lesbians and decried the absence of organized religion in public schools.

The goal was to make the election a referendum on Crazy Bob; but McDonnell deftly sidestepped the firestorm, saying his views had evolved and pushing himself as a jobs-focused lawmaker intent on getting Virginia back to work.

We all know how that turned out. McDonnell led a statewide GOP landslide that carried Cuccinelli into office as attorney general.

Funny how things turn out. The McDonnell years have turned out much as that 1989 grad-school thesis would have predicted. Republican lawmakers have been less focused on jobs than they have on mandating ultrasounds to women seeking abortions, tamping down efforts to promote equality for the LGBT community and trying to block any and all Obama administration initiatives in health care and other areas from taking effect inside the state’s boundaries.

In that context, then, it’s hard not to raise issue with Cuccinelli when he writes that Medicare, Social Security and what he calls “outright welfare” – Medicaid, food stamps and subsidized housing – “make people dependent on government.”

“Sometimes bad politicians set out to grow government in order to increase their own power and influence. This phenomenon doesn’t just happen in Washington; it happens at all levels of government. The amazing this is that they often grow government without protest from citizens, and sometimes they even get buy-in from citizens — at least from the ones getting the goodies,” Cuccinelli writes.

That’s what Democrats have been highlighting in press conferences and press emails all week long. It’s not quite the McDonnell thesis, honestly, which targeted specific groups, but it does harken to the infamous Mitt Romney “47 percent” comment that took the wind out of the sails of the Republican presidential nominee’s campaign last summer.

But will it be enough to derail the Cuccinelli Express?

“Our next governor must put aside this kind extreme ideological rhetoric that divides Virginians and insults everyone who has worked hard and paid their taxes. Our focus must be on keeping Virginia’s economy strong and making our Commonwealth the best for business,” McAuliffe said.

Looks like we shall see …

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